Only 30 percent of teen moms get a high school diploma.
Nationally, the teen birth rate dropped substantially between 1991 and 2005. Progress from 2005 through 2008 has been mixed.
“Franklin County birth rates for 15- to 17-year-olds are relatively stable for whites, and are higher but declining for blacks and Hispanics. The reasons for the declines are not clear, but both increased availability/use of contraception and decreased rates of sexual activity are likely to be contributing factors. We also have seen increases in the use of long-acting (3 to 5 years) contraceptives, but cannot specifically attribute a change in the birth rate to that increase. Franklin County’s birth rates for 18- and 19-year-olds are somewhat higher than the national average and may reflect that, nationally, there is a trend toward less stigma associated with pregnancy out of wedlock for older adolescents.”
Cynthia M. Holland-Hall, MD, MPH, is a physician in the Section of Adolescent Health at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and an associate professor of clinical pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
Felicia Perry gave birth at age 13 to daughter Jamya. The baby was born pre-term, as is often the case with very young moms.
Now, Felicia is 17 and pregnant with a son who will be named Keno. She is in a special program to receive hormone shots and regular monitoring to help prevent another pre-term birth, and she is doing well.
Asked how her life changed after having her first baby, Felicia replies, “Now I am more mature. You have to grow up faster when you have kids.” To Felicia, having the responsibilities of a mother means not thinking about yourself first.
That responsibility keeps her from what otherwise would be typical teen activities. “I have friends, but I can’t do all the things they do.”
Felicia attends school at Focus Learning Academy, where daycare is provided for Jamya. “My main goal is to graduate from high school,” says Felicia, who is about one year behind in school. “Long-term, I want to be a dental assistant, and I want to see my kids in school.”
“In 2007, Latina adolescent girls nationwide gave birth at more than twice the rate of white girls. Language barriers can make access and health literacy a greater challenge. Latinas are at higher risk of pregnancy because they have significantly lower rates of contraceptive use often related to higher poverty rates and economic and education inequities. In addition, adolescent Latinas and Latinos may be more likely to start their families early because they do not have the resources to enter and finish college. Access to medically accurate sex education and preventive services for young people of all ethnicities must be dramatically expanded in order to impact high birth and STD rates in our community.”
Lisa Perks is the executive director of Planned Parenthood of Central Ohio.
Teen Pregnancy Resources